In early 2021, I set out to hike the vast, interconnected trail network of Marin County, starting from the Golden Gate Bridge and working my way north to Mt. Tam.
Here are some of my favorite trails:
Steep Ravine Trail
Venture through old-growth forest alongside a flowing creek. Take this moderately steep trail going uphill from either Rocky Point or Whitegate Ranch trailhead, and make a loop coming back down using either the Dipsea Trail (~5 mi) or the Matt Davis Trail (~7 mi). There’s even a ladder to climb up on the ascent. If you take the Dipsea trail down, pause for a moment near the “Veterans’ Bench”, reflect on the message and enjoy the view before you begin your descent.
Start on the watershed-side trailhead instead of starting from Rock Spring trailhead in Mt Tam State Park - it’s worth the extra drive. The first 1.5 miles to Laurel Dell is a beautiful, but steep 1,000 ft climb along a waterfall that jumps over rocks for nearly that entire length when the creek is flowing (esp in winter and early spring). That’s the highlight of this hike, so you can turn around there, or tack on more of the Cataract or other trails to make a longer hike. It's a popular trail, so try to go at an off-peak time to avoid crowds.
Dias Ridge and Coyote Ridge
Both of these ridges have beautiful views of Muir Beach and the Pacific. Connect these two ridges with the Miwok trail and the Middle Green Gulch Trail for an 8-mile loop. Either direction should be fun.
SCA Trail to Slackers Hill
There are much shorter ways to reach this vista point, but where’s the fun in that? Start from either Morning Sun trailhead (Alta Trail) or Gerbode Valley trailhead (Rodeo Valley trail) to join the SCA trail at Wolfback Ridge Rd, enjoy views of the Bay, SF and the bridge all the way to Slackers Hill.
Muir Woods: The Secret Entrances
Descend into Muir Woods via one of several back entrances.
- From Bootjack or Pantoll Campground, take one of the following trails down to the forest floor, and another back up: Bootjack trail, Ben Johnson trail, or Troop 80 + Sierra trails.
- From Panoramic Highway, take the Canopy View trail down (gentle grade) and the Fern Creek + Lost trails back up (steep grade with stairs)